4th January 2021

Companies are planning more internal recruitment in 2021 – how can agencies compete?


Recruitment is a competitive business, and competition doesn’t always mean other agencies. After a year of turbulent trading and financial instability, many companies are choosing to save money in 2021 by focussing on internal candidates for new positions. Where does this leave recruiters?

While hiring from within makes sense for some roles, it’s your job to educate clients on the benefits of searching the wider talent pool to find the right skillset. And you need compelling data at your fingertips to show them exactly who the strongest candidates are for each new role.

The year of promotion

2021 is shaping up to be ‘the year of promotion’, according to research from LinkedIn. Internal hiring has already increased by 20% in 2020, and a third of UK businesses are planning to focus on providing current employees with opportunities to progress over the next 12 months.

As a result, 60% of firms are launching internal mobility programmes, and 58% are looking at reskilling initiatives. This will be boosted by the Prime Minister’s plans to allocate billions towards upskilling funding.

After a difficult trading year in 2020, it makes sense that current recruitment prospects are focused on internal hiring. Companies want to reward employees that have stayed loyal to them during the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic, helping them to progress professionally and financially.

Equally, it makes economic sense for firms to recruit from within. It’s quicker to train up someone who knows the company culture already, and there’s no recruitment fees to pay.

But just because it’s cheaper to promote someone internally, doesn’t mean this is the better option. Your job as a recruitment agency is to show clients the value of considering new external resources alongside internal candidates.

Give clients a flavour of who’s out there  

While some businesses have highly competent team members that deserve to progress, others may be ‘making the best’ of available resources to save money in the short-term. As a recruiter, you need to help them look beyond immediate financial savings to view the long-term prospects for each new role.

Often, the greatest value comes from recruiting someone outside their organisation who brings fresh skills and ideas to the table. And the best way for your agency to demonstrate this is to show clients what’s currently available in your talent pool.

The closer you can match candidates in your database to potential job opportunities, the more compelling your case will be. And for many agencies, this means investing in a recruitment CRM system that enables you to search records by core competencies and strengths.

The richer your candidate data, the easier it is to pull together shortlists ‘on spec’, to give clients a flavour of the calibre of people available if they opt to recruit externally. This provides them with a fair opportunity to compare internal prospects with the wider market, so they can make the best decision for their business.

Collaborate closely to find future opportunities

Even if your clients are keen to continue with an internal hiring programme in 2021, there are still ways that your agency can support them and demonstrate value.

For example, collaborating closely with clients on mobility and upskilling programmes will enable your team to understand what people qualities they value highest, or which aspects of their company they are planning to develop and expand.

This might not yield any recruitment prospects immediately, but the better you understand your clients, the more likely you are to spot future opportunities. And with the right recruitment onboarding process in place, you can secure candidates and get them role-ready as efficiently as possible when the time is right.

Focusing on the front line – not the back office

Working with companies to grow their workforce is always an educational process. In 2021, recruitment agencies need to focus on building trusted relationships with clients, to help them understand when to develop skills internally, and when to look outside their business and hire external talent.

Adding this kind of value takes time – time that many recruitment agencies don’t have, because back office tasks are dominating your workload. ETZ can lift this burden with our ultimate recruitment tech stack, which streamlines and automates administrative processes like onboarding, compliance and payroll. Book a demo to find out more.


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